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Philip Roth, the Seminal American Novelist, Has Died

Philip Roth, the American literary icon whose novel “American Pastoral” won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, in 1998, has died, at the age of eighty-five, according to friends close to him. His great subjects, as Claudia Roth Pierpont wrote in this magazine, in 2006, included “the Jewish family, sex, American ideals, the betrayal of American ideals, political zealotry, personal identity,” and “the human body (usually male) in its strength, its frailty, and its often ridiculous need.”

Roth published his first story in The New Yorker, “The Kind of Person I Am,” in 1958; the following year, another story in the magazine, “Defender of the Faith,” prompted condemnations from rabbis and the Anti-Defamation League. “His sin was simple: he’d had the audacity to write about a Jewish kid as being flawed,” David Remnick wrote in a Profile of Roth, in 2000. “He had violated the tribal code on Jewish self-exposure.” In 1979, in its June 25th and July 2nd issues, The New Yorker published—in its entirety—“The Ghost Writer,” the first of Roth’s novels to be narrated by his fictional alter ego, Nathan Zuckerman. (As Claudia Roth Pierpont wrote, in 2013, Roth’s editor at the magazine, Veronica Geng, was the one to “march into the office of . . . William Shawn, put the manuscript on his desk, and say, ‘We should publish the whole thing.’ ”)

Zuckerman would make subsequent appearances in the magazine, in “Smart Money” (from “Zuckerman Unbound,” 1981) and “Communist” (from “I Married a Communist,” 1998). Over two issues, in 1995, The New Yorker also published excerpts from “Sabbath’s Theater” (“The Ultimatum” and “Drenka’s Men”), for which Roth won his second National Book Award. (The first was for “Goodbye, Columbus,” published in 1959.)

Roth also leaves behind a corpus of essays, criticism, and other artifacts, some of which Adam Gopnik explored in his essay “Philip Roth, Patriot,” last year. For this magazine, Roth wrote once and again about his friend Saul Bellow, exchanged letters with a dismayed Mary McCarthy on his novel “The Counterlife,” posted an open letter to Wikipedia airing objections to its entry on “The Human Stain,” and e-mailed with the staff writer Judith Thurman about how his book “The Plot Against America” foreshadowed the rise of Donald Trump. Just last summer, The New Yorker published Roth’s piece on American identity, and on his love of American place names: “The pleasurable sort of sentiment aroused by the mere mention of Spartanburg, Santa Cruz, or the Nantucket Light, as well as unassuming Skunktown Plain, or Lost Mule Flat, or the titillatingly named Little French Lick.”

David Remnick wrote about Roth’s retirement, in 2012, and, the following year, sent a dispatch from Roth’s eightieth-birthday celebration, in Newark—Roth’s home town and the site of much of his fiction. That night, Roth read a famous passage from “Sabbath’s Theater,” “death-haunted but assertive of life,” Remnick wrote. “The passage ends with his hero putting stones on the graves of the dead. Stones that honor the dead. Stones that are also meant to speak to the dead, to mark the presence of life, as well, if only for a while. The passage ends simply. It ends with the line, ‘Here I am.’ ”

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Ryan losing grip on House GOP conference as midterms approach

Speaker Paul D. Ryan is losing his grip on the feuding House Republican conference just months before pivotal midterm elections, caught between dueling factions vying for power inside the party and facing scattered calls for his departure ahead of a planned year-end retirement.

The unrest comes in the wake of a humiliating defeat for Ryan and other GOP leaders last week, when conservatives sank a farm bill amid a broader dispute over immigration policy, and threatens to spark months of bitter infighting as Republican lawmakers try to make the case that they should be returned to power in Washington.

But there is no clear way out for the party. Numerous aides and lawmakers said Tuesday there is not a viable alternative to Ryan who can win enough support within the GOP for a clean transition before November — and there is little stomach at the moment for the messy battle that would ensue when Ryan departs.

“Whoever comes in is going to walk right into a buzz saw,” said Rep. David Joyce (R-Ohio), a Ryan supporter. “Who better than Paul, who came in under these circumstances, to continue to calm the waters?”

Ryan’s preferred successor is Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who helped recruit dozens of sitting Republican lawmakers and enjoys a close relationship with President Trump. Two senior Republicans who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe their view said it would be preferable if McCarthy could take the reins immediately and move to assert more control over the party’s legislating and fundraising.

Talk of a leadership change also got an unusual public airing this week when White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said at a Colorado Springs policy conference that he had spoken to McCarthy about the prospect of replacing Ryan before the midterms.

Ryan’s hand has weakened in the legislative realm even as his party sees signs of optimism for November. Some new public polls have shown the Democratic advantage in congressional races eroding, while Republicans have taken heart as more liberal — and, in their view, beatable — candidates have emerged from some key Democratic primaries.

Still, the immigration fracas and Friday’s related farm bill defeat has unleashed raw expressions of frustration from Republicans who are befuddled that they have been unable to stay united while in full control of Congress and the White House.

“Last week, if I saw that stuff shaping up, I’d say, ‘You two, go in a room . . . go figure it out and don’t leave that [expletive] room until you come out with a solution,’” said Rep. Scott W. Taylor (R-Va.), who is in a competitive race for reelection.

He declined to blame Ryan for the infighting and said he was not certain whether electing another leader would get the GOP back on track before November: “I’m totally frustrated, but I’m not sure that’s all on him.”

In the Sunday remarks by Mulvaney, first reported Monday by the Weekly Standard, the former South Carolina congressman suggested that a House speaker vote could serve as a welcome referendum on Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.).

“I’ve talked with Kevin about this privately but not as much publicly,” Mulvaney said. “Wouldn’t it be great to force a Democrat running in a tight race to have to put up or shut up about voting for Nancy Pelosi eight weeks before an election? That’s a really, really good vote for us to force if we can figure out how to do it.”

But all indications are that a speaker vote would be much more divisive for Republicans than for Democrats, who are defending relatively few competitive House seats.

McCarthy faces persistent doubts from the GOP’s hard-right, who want more influence in the party leadership, if not a leadership spot of their own. And they are hardly eager to pave the way for his ascension to the speakership.

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) — the House Freedom Caucus chairman who has frequently fomented drama in the GOP leadership ranks, to the point of sparking the resignation of former speaker John A. Boehner — sought instead Tuesday to tamp it down. “It’s reporter rhetoric,” he said of Ryan’s potential early exit. “It is not based on facts.”

Rep. Warren Davidson (R-Ohio), a Freedom Caucus member, told reporters Tuesday that it was “premature” to have leadership elections when dozens of new Republicans could be elected in November. Many conservatives, in the House and outside it, are promoting Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a co-founder of the Freedom Caucus, as an alternative to McCarthy.

“I think the real question is, are we going to play offense while we’re on offense?” Davidson said. “We’ve got the ball right now. We’ve got things that we campaigned on and promises broadly we made.”

Lawmakers on the other end of the GOP spectrum are just as skeptical of a pre-election leadership scramble.

“If we have a speaker’s race, then it takes everyone’s eye off the ball of what’s most important, and that is keeping the majority,” said Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), who chairs the centrist Republican Main Street Caucus. “It would be the most short-lived time in the speaker’s chair that anyone could have asked for.”

Inside a closed-door meeting of Republican lawmakers Tuesday, according to attendees, Ryan expressed frustrations with the unraveling of the farm bill and argued that the political winds appeared to finally be blowing in the GOP’s direction. Sticking together, he told the group, is the only way to keep it going — prompting a standing ovation that could be heard in the hallways outside the room.

Afterward, Ryan told reporters that he was focused on passing legislation like the House farm bill, which includes a new policy favored by House conservatives that would require some food stamp recipients to look for work to receive benefits. He also twice noted that he had not sought the speakership, but rather had been drafted to run after Boehner’s resignation.

“Our members realize what we want to do is act on our agenda, improve people’s lives,” Ryan said. “And having a divisive leadership election at this time would prevent us from doing that.”

Multiple Republicans said this week that the only factor that could accelerate Ryan’s departure is intervention from Trump, who is caught between his friendship with McCarthy and conservative allies who want to force a race.

For now, the White House is not convinced that Ryan staying as speaker through the end of this term is a tenable situation, one senior White House official said. But the White House has made a concerted effort to stay out of the race to replace Ryan since he announced his retirement last month, believing there is no upside for Trump to weigh in on the matter.

Mulvaney did not consult the White House before making his remarks over the weekend, the official said. A spokeswoman for Mulvaney called the comments “purely hypothetical” and that he supports Ryan remaining as speaker.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Tuesday that it was up to Ryan and his fellow GOP lawmakers to determine whether he continues and “not something that the White House has weighed into at this point.”

The next front in the internal GOP battle will play out of the coming weeks as the immigration issue comes to a head. Twenty Republicans have signed a “discharge” petition to force a debate, which could come as soon as June 25, on a series of immigration bills — including some bills that Democrats support and conservatives hate. Its backers, which include Republicans in Democratic-friendly districts, said Tuesday that they expect to have enough signers by the end of the week.

To sidestep that possibility, top GOP leaders said this week that they plan to bring up immigration bills the week beforehand, but there are widespread doubts that they will be able to craft a bill that could pass the House with a majority of Republicans supporting it.

“I have not seen a bill at this point that can magically bring everybody together,” said Davis, who has been involved in meetings on the issue with Meadows and the leaders of other GOP factions.

Jordan, meanwhile, said “a little friendly persuasion” from Ryan and other leaders could produce a passable bill.

Several Republican lawmakers said Tuesday that there would be no discernible difference if McCarthy were in charge rather than Ryan and instead wished that the party could focus on passing more substantial bills into law before the midterms.

“We just want results,” said Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.), a veteran lawmaker who is retiring. “There is almost no scenario where we’re going to be in better shape next year — probably going to lose some seats in the House, maybe gain a Senate seat or two, maybe not. If we really want to accomplish things, there is no better time than right now.”

Paul Kane and Seung Min Kim contributed to this report.

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Former Trump campaign co-chair describes meeting with alleged FBI informant

A former Trump campaign co-chairman shared details to Fox News on Tuesday night about a meeting he had with an individual who he now believes was an FBI informant.

Sam Clovis spoke out to “Tucker Carlson Tonight” amid reports the alleged FBI informant was in touch with members of the Trump campaign team during the 2016 presidential election.

Clovis told Carlson that prior to the meeting on Sept. 1, 2016, the alleged informant emailed him asking for a sit-down to discuss foreign policy and to share some writings which might help the campaign.

The meeting in Washington D.C. lasted about an hour and the pair discussed the individual’s research “and it mostly was focused on China,” Clovis said.


Weeks later, Clovis told Carlson, he received an email from the alleged informant that contained “several attachments.”

“And I can be honest with you, Tucker, I haven’t even opened those attachments to this day,” Clovis said. “I have no idea what was in them but they were mostly titled, ‘papers that dealt with China.’”

Clovis said he did not know the individual before getting the initial email. He said the alleged informant claimed to know Carter Page, who also was part of Trump’s campaign team.

It wasn’t until recent reporting that Clovis said he “started to put two and two together.” 

“And then it started to make sense to me,” Clovis said, that the individual may have been “probing to find a weak spot in our campaign.”


“Someone who might be vulnerable to connecting things back to those elusive 30,000 emails that supposedly the Russians had,” Clovis said, adding that he thought the alleged informant’s task was “to create an audit trail back to those emails from someone in the campaign or someone associated with the campaign so that they could develop a stronger case for probable cause to continue to issue warrants and to further an investigation.”

“Because I really felt after hearing all of these other things and listening to the reports that I’ve read, that this truly was an effort to build something that did not exist,” Clovis said.

When Carlson asked Clovis why he never read the email attachments, he replied that he “was busy” and because he “didn’t think that they were going to contribute anything.”

He continued, “I’ve gone back and reviewed all my emails. I didn’t report that meeting to anyone in the campaign so the meeting was of no consequence to me as far as anything I can remember. And I’ve looked through all of my personal emails and everything, and I can’t find a record of it at all.”


Fox News reported earlier Tuesday that the alleged informant spoke with Clovis, in addition to Carter Page and foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulous.

A source told Fox News’ John Roberts that Clovis met with the alleged informant, whom he knew to be a professor, and had a conversation related to China. The source told Fox News that Russia did not come up.

The source told Fox News that Clovis received a follow-up email from the individual in the months before the election with research material on China, and another email on the day after the election congratulating the campaign.

Fox News’ Brooke Singman and John Roberts contributed to this report.

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Paul Ryan Is A Lame Duck. Should The GOP Force Him Out Early?

Welcome to FiveThirtyEight’s weekly politics chat. The transcript below has been lightly edited.

micah (Micah Cohen, politics editor): Welcome, everyone. It’s soooooooooo good to be with you all again.

For us to debate today: How much of a lame duck is House Speaker Paul Ryan?

There have been a few news developments that sorta raise this question — White House budget director Mick Mulvaney reportedly talking to supposed-next-in-line House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy about replacing Ryan early, the discharge petition (which would force a vote on DACA) gaining steam in the House despite leadership’s opposition, etc.

So, let’s start with how much of a lame duck Ryan is. But I’m also kinda curious how and why that matters.

perry (Perry Bacon Jr., senior writer): He’s a lame duck in the most obvious sense that he’s not running for another term, so he will be gone after December. Usually, the speaker of House leads, in part, through the perception that he or she has outsized power (he or she controls committee chairmanships, has access to donors you need, etc.), and I wonder if you lose power if everyone knows you are leaving soon.

I guess the only question is whether he was a lame duck already — before announcing his pending retirement — because of the perception that Democrats will win the House anyway.

clare.malone (Clare Malone, senior political writer): I’ve been tuned out of the House shenanigans for a bit, so I’m not as filled in on this discharge petition stuff that Micah referred to, but the basic gist is that Ryan was against bringing an immigration vote to head and told his caucus as much, but then a lot of them ignored him?

Sounds like a loss of power, though can we directly tie it to his lame duck-age? Isn’t the House Republican caucus just generally disobedient?

natesilver (Nate Silver, editor in chief): I think he’s a lame duck figuratively — but not literally. Paul Ryan is a person and not a bird.

But more seriously — he hasn’t been an especially effective speaker. He doesn’t really have that much of a hold of his caucus. And there’s no reason for Kevin McCarthy or other people who want to be speaker not to try to oust him early.

clare.malone: Propriety, I guess, is what the counterargument would be

micah: Is there an affirmative reason for them to oust him early? What’s the benefit?

perry: The context here is that conservatives and moderates joined together to kill a farm and food stamps bill that Ryan was pushing on Friday. That increased the buzz that Ryan has no power with his caucus. The conservatives were mad that he wasn’t moving forward on their immigration bill, which is along the lines of what Trump wants. The moderates didn’t like the food stamps cuts. Separately, the moderates are pushing to get a vote on a bill that would basically grant legal status to the “dreamers,” who were illegally brought to the U.S. as children, and trying to force it to the floor over the objections of Ryan.

clare.malone: I’m interested in someone explaining the logic of this Mulvaney quote to me:

“Wouldn’t it be great to force a Democrat running in a tight race to have to put up or shut up about voting for Nancy Pelosi eight weeks before an election? That’s a really, really good vote for us to force if we can figure out how to do it.”

natesilver: Yeah, that quote is obvious bullshit.

micah: I don’t think Mulvaney understands how the midterms are shaping up, no?

clare.malone: If the Republicans decide to force a leadership vote on their end, Democrats also get forced into a vote, right?

perry: If Ryan resigns now, there is a vote by the full House for who is speaker.

micah: Yeah, it’s one vote, right?

perry: Democrats would have to vote for either Pelosi or vote present.

It’s one vote of the whole chamber, yeah.

micah: But, Nate, explain why you think it’s BS.

natesilver: First of all, there are very few vulnerable Democrats running in the House. The GOP won almost all the competitive seats in 2014 and 2016.

Secondly, the Democrats have already voted on Pelosi as speaker, so it’s hard to see another vote having any marginal impact.

Thirdly, some Democrats in tough races (and again, there are almost none of them) might appreciate an opportunity to throw Pelosi under the bus when there’s essentially no consequence to doing so.

And fourthly, this is exactly the sort of self-serving excuse that one should be disdainful of. It’s a transparent excuse from McCarthy’s allies to do something they have lots of other reasons to do.

perry: To take Mulvaney’s side, if you think Ryan is suboptimal as leader because he is a lame duck and want to dump him, that’s a reasonable position. And if you are at a Weekly Standard event (that is where Mulvaney made his comments), it might be easier to say, “Let’s use the speaker vote to beat up on Pelosi,” than, “Ryan has no power and couldn’t manage the firing of a chaplain, let’s get him out already.”

clare.malone: Right, Nate, isn’t politics all about saying something that is actually a transparent excuse to get to actually DO something else? Or Congressional politics, at the very least.

natesilver: Of course it is, Clare, but it’s the job of reporters to call out that bullshit.

clare.malone: You wanted more context to the news story, correct?

Or you wanted reporters to thinly editorialize within the piece that this was BS?

perry: Let me also try defending Mulvaney’s view of the politics: Wouldn’t a vote in September on House speaker be a huge media story and basically require every Democratic candidate for the House — and to some extent the Senate — to give their views on Pelosi? Isn’t this a net good for Republicans? Isn’t any day/week that Pelosi’s unpopularity is in the news a good day for Republicans?

micah: That last point seems pretty persuasive to me.

perry: I’m not saying it’s going to win the GOP any seats. But the Republicans don’t have a lot to run on.

natesilver: I think it would be a half-day story.

slackbot: Micah used to taunt people leaving even a few minutes early with, “Half day?” as they walked out the door. He thought he was very funny. Many, many others disagreed.

clare.malone: lol

micah: Haha — someone made that automated reply when anyone says “half day” apparently.

clare.malone: Can we leave slackbot in there?

natesilver: Please leave that in the chat.

perry: Republicans are already investing heavily in the anti-Pelosi strategy in ads and so on.

natesilver: Whereas … replacing the speaker of the House two months before an election would be a bigger story? What if the vote doesn’t go smoothly?

perry: Good point. Any process that relies on Freedom Caucus cooperation will not be smooth.

Imagine what they would ask McCarthy for! “Obamacare repeal votes every day if you are speaker.”

natesilver: Yeah, for me it’s like — if you can do it quietly, sure, go ahead and do it. But if it becomes a big news story, there’s more downside than upside risk for Republicans.

perry: The Ryan question, in part, gets at something broader: What would you do to save the majority if you were Trump/Mike Pence/McCarthy/Ryan? And is Ryan bad at running the House or is the GOP conference ungovernable? Maybe the second question has the more obvious answer: yes and yes.

micah: OK, yeah, so let’s take that one part at a time.

Step 1: Is Ryan’s continued occupation of the speakership hurting the GOP as it heads into the midterms?

Hurting electorally, that is.

clare.malone: Eh, is it?

micah: I’m asking you!

clare.malone: I’m not sure that it is.

micah: I do the asking around here!!!

clare.malone: OK, that’s my answer: I’m not sure that it is!

I’d call it neutral.

micah: Yeah, that’s my view too.

natesilver: Ryan isn’t a popular guy. He and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are really just as unpopular as Pelosi, depending on which polls you look at.

perry: Hard to know. It’s not helping. He says he is great at raising money. I think GOP donors would give to whoever was in that job, because they are focused on the majority.

micah: Ryan is unpopular in the way all Congressional leaders are unpopular.

natesilver: Also, the GOP agenda is quite unpopular. People forget that Trump’s approval ratings hit some of their lowest points in the midst of the health care debate, and then later in the midst of tax debate, when the GOP Congress was dominating the news.

micah: But again, that suggests this isn’t about Ryan.

Whoever occupies that job will represent 1. Congress, and 2. the GOP agenda.

Both of which, as you say, are unpopular.

natesilver: And Kevin McCarthy is not exactly a guy who screams, “Here’s a break from the status quo.”

micah: Very true.

clare.malone: He’s from exotic CALIFORNIA!!!!

micah: lol

OK, Step 2 …

Would a different speaker (McCarthy or someone else) or the process of getting a different speaker, in any way improve GOP’s 2018 fortunes?

natesilver: “In any way” is a pretty big qualifier.

micah: I’m trying to encourage outside-the-box thinking.

natesilver: I think there are probably some consequences to the GOP caucus being in disarray before the midterms. I’m not sure if getting rid of Ryan will lead to more or less disarray, however.

But I don’t think this is really an electoral politics story. It’s more a future-of-the-Republican-Party story.

clare.malone: Love those.

Ryan is publicly “with Trump,” but you can read between the lines and see that he also probably doesn’t like the guy. But he’s gone along with him. I’d be interested to see what a Freedom Caucus speaker would look like — i.e., a super-duper Trump buy-in person.

micah: I mean, isn’t McCarthy pretty super-duper Trumpy?

clare.malone: Sure. But he’s not a radical conservative.

That’s what I mean … like, of the stylistically radically conservative set.

natesilver: I don’t think McCarthy is particularly Trumpy.

perry: Ryan is, “Let Mueller finish.” McCarthy is basically, “Whatever Trump is for.” And a Freedom Caucus speaker would be, “Fire Rosenstein, we need a second special counsel, go Nunes!”

clare.malone: Yes.

Chaos agents.

micah: That’s a good way to break it down.


Go Nunes!

perry: And I think that is what we are really debating ahead of 2018. Ryan wants to do conservative policy (reforming the food stamp program, for example). The moderates don’t, because conservative policy is dangerous politically if you are in a swing district. The Freedom Caucus wants to do conservative policy and anti-Mueller/Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein stuff. McCarthy wants to please Trump and become speaker (those goals are related but not necessarily perfectly aligned with one another). He is not particularly policy-oriented, and I don’t mean that as a insult, because being in leadership in Congress is not really a policy role.

And as Nate hinted, these play into visions of the future too.

natesilver: I mean, McCarthy has voted with Trump a lot since he’s been in leadership. But I think he’s sort of a generic conservative Republican, frankly. He’s neither as ideologically-driven nor as wonky as Ryan, I don’t think. He’s just a partisan who votes the way most of the GOP caucus does.

micah: Doesn’t that describe Ryan too?

clare.malone: Zing!

micah: I’m serious!

clare.malone: I know.

natesilver: Ryan has at least the patina of being an intellectual.

micah: *had

clare.malone: The Ryan-McCarthy swap out would be more of the same.

perry: Ryan really wants to do a bill reforming the food program because he believes in that policy. McCarthy, I don’t think, would really push that — unless he was told that was what other people wanted and it would guarantee him speaker votes.

micah: So if that’s true, then maybe getting McCarthy in would marginally help the GOP.

natesilver: Ryan has called out Trump on various occasions. Maybe not when it mattered and not in a meaningful way. But more than McCarthy has.

perry: That is true as well.

I think McCarthy, if you can believe it, might make the House slightly more Trump-aligned than it is now.

clare.malone: Do you think voters actually care about a new speaker pre-midterms?

micah: Noooooooooooooooo

clare.malone: That’s the original q …

I’m not sure they do!

Micah and I are on the “nothing really matters” bandwagon

micah: Team Nihilism!!!

perry: There might be ways to change House policy that would matter in the midterms.

Like if I were them, I would stop doing food stamps and go full culture war — defend the police, build the wall, a bill encouraging NFL players to stand during the pledge, etc.

There are probably ways to run the House that are more Trump-like, in other words,

and I think that might have marginal electoral effects.

clare.malone: OK, that’s fair.

And that would be a definite departure from the current course of action.

But that sounds like a full Freedom Caucus speakership, not a McCarthy one. So it would have to be an upheaval speakership election.

natesilver: It seems like you guys are ignoring some important ways that the House could matter.

In Room, The Elephant

micah: Nate, what you talking about?

natesilver: Mueller.

What if Rudy Giuliani is right about something for the first time in many years, and Mueller actually does come back with findings before Sept. 1?

What if Trump fires Mueller? What if he fires Rosenstein?

What if Trump pardons Jared Kushner after Mueller indicts him?

All of these are very real possibilities.

micah: So?

Nate, what does this have to do with anything!!!!

clare.malone: Nate literally just changed the entire convo.

perry: Would Ryan react differently in any of those situations than McCarthy would?

Would Ryan react differently to that than Freedom Caucus member Jim Jordan?

micah: In Room, A Non Sequitur

natesilver: I’m just saying we’re debating all these minutia of what the House’s agenda will be for the rest of the year, and that’ll all be outweighed by an order of magnitude if any of the aforementioned Mueller-related things happen.

So, yes, how would Ryan react (as compared to McCarthy or Jordan) to an obstruction of justice finding, for example?

micah: The same.

natesilver: [citation needed]

micah: The same, according to my gut feeling which is based on not much at all.

clare.malone: Jordan might act differently.

micah: Oh, yeah …


Jordan might.

natesilver: One could maaaayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyybeee argue that having Ryan still in place as speaker could help the GOP in that instance.

He could try to play like he’s the reasonable man in the room, a framing that the media tends to eat up with Ryan, just so the GOP can buy time and see how the midterms go.

clare.malone: I’ve lost track. Does Nate think Ryan should resign?

natesilver: I think Republicans should do whatever the hell they want. I don’t think the overall electoral effects are liable to be profound either way unless there’s a messy transition or speakership battle, and even then they’ll be like the seventh most important issue.

If somehow that messy transition battle coincided with a big development in the Mueller probe where Congress was compelled to weigh in — I guess that’s the worst-case scenario for the GOP, insofar as this goes.

clare.malone: So you’re lightweight on Team Nihilist.

micah: OK, actually, if we use Trump score as a proxy for “will do what benefits Trump,” then here’s the ranking from most pro-Trump to least:

  1. McCarthy
  2. Ryan
  3. Jordan

perry: The Trump score is broken in this case then. On a Mueller probe scale, it should be, in terms of loyalty to Trump: 1. Jordan 2. McCarthy 3. Ryan. Or maybe: 1. Jordan/McCarthy 2. Ryan. Or: 1. Jordan/McCarthy/Ryan.

micah: lol

OK, closing thoughts?

natesilver: I’d just keep in mind that the next GOP leader will likely face either a Democratic House or a very narrow GOP majority, neither of which is much fun.

clare.malone: Do you think if Netflix offered Ryan a development deal he’d leave early?

I’m half serious. If it’s such a shit job and his leaving will have no real effect, why wouldn’t he leave early?

I guess that’s my ultimate last thought: I don’t think the speakership matters to voters.

micah: Team Nihilism!

natesilver: It’s a bit humiliating, I guess? Ryan tries to brand himself as someone who’s principled rather than transactional.

micah: The Trump presidency has been really bad for the Ryan brand.

However his tenure ends.

natesilver: Arguably Ryan has been bad for the Trump presidency too.

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Immigration, education key in primaries for Georgia governor

ATLANTA (AP) – In Georgia’s gubernatorial primaries Tuesday, Democrats were guaranteed the party’s first female nominee for the office while the Republican contest centered largely on who loved guns the most and was toughest on immigration.

Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s office said that voting had gone “smoothly” across the state, though they opened four investigations including one involving a delayed opening in Chatham county.

The two Democratic candidates are former legislative colleagues tussling over ethics accusations and their records on education. Former state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams and former state Rep. Stacey Evans are both Atlanta-area attorneys. The Stacey who wins will be the first female Democratic gubernatorial nominee in Georgia.

Abrams got a last-minute boost with an endorsement — in the form of a 60-second robo-call — from Hillary Clinton.

Voting in Atlanta as drizzle fell, independent consultant Jen Willsea said she hopes Abrams becomes the first black female governor in the Deep South state. Abrams “excites me more than almost any politician I’ve seen or met or heard about in years,” she said,

But small business owner Corbet Brown says he supports Evans, because it’s time for a change.

The Republican field includes five white men: former legislators, officeholders and businessmen, some with decades of political experience and others positioning themselves as outsiders challenging the establishment.

They include Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle of Gainesville, Secretary of State Brian Kemp of Athens, former state Sen. Hunter Hill of Atlanta, state Sen. Michael Williams of Cumming and businessman Clay Tippins of Atlanta.

In the wealthier suburbs north of Atlanta, Republican John Damken of Johns Creek said Cagle got his vote. Damken, who is white, said the economy is more important than any gender or racial precedent.

“I think we’re way past the first woman doing anything, the first black doing anything. We’re way past that,” said Damken, 67. “We should be colorblind. We should be gender blind and go for whomever we think is the best person.”

Kemp supporter Ernest Moosa, 56, described himself as a libertarian, and said Cagle lost his vote by supporting a gasoline tax a few years ago.

“Our sales taxes and our total tax burden is beginning to look more like Northeastern cities than a city in the Southeast,” Moosa said.

JoAnn Walter, 72, also picked Kemp, saying she really liked his provocative ads. One featured him wielding a shotgun alongside a young male suitor of his teenage daughter; in another, he said his pickup could come in handy rounding up “criminal illegals.”

“They get your attention and you remember them,” she said, adding that she supported the messages in those ads.

Voting in Atlanta’s wealthy Buckhead neighborhood, Bonnie Mayo, 76, chose Hill, saying she thinks he did very well in a debate she watched.

“I just liked him,” she said, “He represents a change.”

She thinks Cagle will probably end up being her party’s nominee and she’s OK with that, but she was turned off by him killing a tax break that would have saved Delta Air Lines millions each year in retaliation for ending a discount program for members of the National Rifle Association.

“I thought it was unnecessary and a play for attention more than anything else,” she said.

If no candidate receives more than 50 percent – a strong possibility given the crowded GOP field – the two with the most votes will advance to a July 24 runoff.

The candidates are vying to succeed term-limited Republican Gov. Nathan Deal, who has held the office since 2011.

All of Georgia’s statewide constitutional offices are up for grabs this election cycle, including those vacated by Cagle and Kemp, as well as the position of insurance commissioner vacated by Ralph Hudgens, who isn’t seeking re-election.

Georgia’s 180 state House and 56 state Senate seats are also up for a vote.

Five of Georgia’s U.S. House members face primary challengers.

Data released by Kemp’s office showed a relatively strong turnout in early voting this year.


Associated Press writer Kate Brumback in Atlanta and Alex Sanz in Johns Creek contributed to this report.


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Senate curbs Donald Trump’s ability to ease sanctions on Chinese telecom giant ZTE

The Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday attempted to curb President Trump’s ability to ease sanctions on ZTE Corp., amid trade talks between Washington and Beijing and growing concerns that the Chinese cellphone maker poses security risks to U.S. national security.

On Tuesday, committee members approved an amendment, in a 23-2 vote, to block the White House from easing sanctions on ZTE by requiring the administration first prove to Congress that the Shenzen-based company is complying with U.S. law.

During a separate Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing Tuesday, Treasure Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin said any easing of sanctions would heed national security concerns.

“Anything that they consider will take into account the very important national security issues, and those will be addressed,” Mr. Mnuchin told committee members.

He did not confirm that a move was underway to lift the ban.

The ban on ZTE has become snared in trade talks between the Trump administration and Beijing, and alarms are being raised about ZTE’s ability to breach U.S. national security by selling phones to Americans.

Last month, Washington barred ZTE from receiving U.S. exports after the firm failed to comply with a settlement reached after it violated sanctions against North Korea and Iran. The Pentagon previously banned the phones on military bases because of the security concerns.

Earlier this month in response to a personal request by Chinese President Xi Jinping, Mr. Trump ordered a review of the ZTE ban, which has the potential to devastate the firm that is China’s second-largest manufacturer of cellphones.

“If the president and his team won’t follow through on tough sanctions against ZTE, it’s up to Congress to ensure that it happens,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, said in a statement on Tuesday.

Republicans also came out against moves to ease off ZTE. Sen. Marco Rubio, of Florida, on Tuesday said China appeared to be “out-negotiating” the administration by securing concessions “without giving up anything meaningful in return.”

Mr. Rubio tweeted, “Sadly #China is out-negotiating the administration & winning the trade talks right now. They have avoided tariffs & got a #ZTE deal without giving up anything meaningful in return by using N.Korea talks & agriculture issues as leverage. This is #NotWinning.”

• S.A. Miller contributed to this article.

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Republicans, no Democrats, invited to see documents on U.S. election probe

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Two Republican lawmakers, and no Democrats, are expected to attend a meeting scheduled for Thursday to review classified information relating to U.S. President Donald Trump’s suggestion the FBI might have used an informant to gather information on his 2016 election campaign, the White House said on Tuesday.

Trump’s closest conservative allies in Congress have been clamoring for access to the classified documents. The lawmakers have accused the FBI and Department of Justice of political bias against Trump in favor of Democratic former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during his successful presidential campaign.

The meeting attendees will be Representatives Devin Nunes, chairman of the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, and Trey Gowdy, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, White House spokesman Sarah Sanders told the daily news briefing.

FBI Director Christopher Wray, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and Acting Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General Ed O’Callaghan are also expected to attend, she said.

Earlier on Tuesday, a group of Republican lawmakers called for the appointment of a second special counsel to investigate the probe into Trump’s campaign, Russia and the 2016 U.S. election, as Trump ramped up his own criticism of the Department of Justice.

At least 18 Republican lawmakers signed onto a resolution calling on U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to appoint a special counsel to investigate the department and the FBI, accusing them of misconduct as Trump campaigned two years ago against Democrat Hillary Clinton.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Justice declined comment.

Conservatives have been criticizing the department, the FBI and Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of Russian interference in the election for months. Their rhetoric intensified after Trump suggested on Friday that the FBI might have planted or recruited an informant in his presidential campaign for political purposes.

Moscow denies election meddling and Trump denies any collusion between Russian officials and his campaign, calling investigations a political witch hunt.

On Monday, the Justice Department agreed to investigate “any irregularities” in FBI tactics related to Trump’s campaign. The agreement was made during a meeting between Trump, U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Wray.

“It is time for transparency and it is time to allow the American people to know the truth,” Representative Mark Meadows, the Republican who leads the conservative Freedom Caucus, told a news conference announcing the resolution.

Representative Lee Zeldin, who led the push for the resolution, said it would be introduced later on Tuesday.

Zeldin, Meadows and about a dozen other Republicans in the House of Representatives insisted at a news conference announcing the resolution that Trump had not requested a new counsel.

They also called for access, for Democrats as well as Republicans, to all documents related to the case.

There was no immediate response from House leadership aides on whether the measure might come up for a vote. House Speaker Paul Ryan has said repeatedly, however, that he believed Mueller should be allowed to continue his work.

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), Chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, attends a news conference with 10 other Republican members of Congress announcing their introduction of a U.S. House resolution alleging misconduct in the Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation and requesting the appointment of a second special counsel to investigate the law enforcement probes into the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., May 22, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis

Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Additional reporting by Doina Chiacu and Eric Walsh; editing by Grant McCool

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Fire Rosenstein, Right Now | RealClearPolitics

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein must be feeling the heat. On Sunday he responded with uncharacteristic promptness to President Trump’s demand for an investigation into possible Department of Justice spying on his campaign.  An inspector general inquiry is indeed a good idea, and should help restore confidence in our highest agencies of national security and law enforcement. 

But for Rosenstein, it’s too little, and much too late. He should lose his job.

Why fire him? 

Regarding this whole imbroglio, the president’s patience has been tested.  But I suggest a new approach to deal with the unending assault upon Trump from his own DOJ.  So far, he has fought back primarily through his incisive Twitter skills. But his legal team has been, until recently, quite acquiescent.  It’s high time to realize the Mueller probe and all the attendant media attention are about one thing and one thing only: impeachment.  

So, time for new tactics.  Stop cooperating, now.  If subpoenaed, refuse and mount a vociferous court challenge.  Most of all, immediately fire the deputy attorney general.

Why now?  The most proximate reason is his willful intransigence regarding the totally lawful congressional requests for documents.  Rosenstein’s DOJ has continually stymied the legitimate oversight inquiries from Capitol Hill.  In fact, he hubristically stated that he is “not going to be extorted” by duly elected congressional committees.  Well, Rod, there are a couple of massive problems with your statement.  First, per our Constitution, only Congress possesses the power to oversee the executive branch and, if necessary, prosecute the president.  Second, given the accumulating evidence of conflicted and corrupted actors within the DOJ, FBI, and CIA, your failure to cooperate reeks of a man with much to hide.

In addition, Rosenstein needs to be shown the door for his total inability or unwillingness to supervise the Mueller probe.  Like Rosenstein, Mueller works for the president as part of the executive branch.  He does not maintain the special status of independent counsels of the past, such as Ken Starr.  Both Republicans and Democrats, thankfully, realized the danger of unfettered and unaccountable prosecutors who answer to no one, and let that statute lapse. But sadly, because of Rosenstein’s total dereliction of duty, the ludicrous Mueller inquest has become an endless one, searching everywhere possible for even a hint of misconduct by anyone associated with the president. An investigation in search of a crime represents an un-American approach that is antithetical to our notions of jurisprudence.

Though much has been made of Mueller’s charges and indictments to date, the majority involve Russian nationals.  Among the charges against Americans, almost all pre-date any involvement with Trump.

Initially, investigating possible “Russian collusion” was the special counsel’s raison d’etre.  Then, the narrative seized on porn stars and minor alleged campaign finance violations.  Now, the new storyline is Saudi and Israeli preference that Trump win in 2016. Regarding that last point, what a surprise given President Obama’s constant coddling of Iran?!

The point is, with no sunset date, a bunch of incredibly biased swamp attorneys, and a blank check underwritten by the taxpayer, when does this American Torquemada give up?

Here’s the apparent harsh reality: The national security apparatus of our country under Obama was unleashed upon an opposition campaign.  This prospect alone represents an intolerable affront to our Constitution and our liberty.  Perhaps even worse, the present trajectory of the investigation has nothing to do with actual legal infractions by Trump, either before or after his historic win. 

Instead, one goal abides: impeachment.  The administrative state apparatchiks, from Democrats on the Hill to so-called Republicans in the DOJ, want nothing more than to nullify our electoral revolt of 2016. 

The first step toward rectifying that incredible threat is firing Rod Rosenstein.

Steve Cortes is a contributor to RealClearPolitics and a CNN  political commentator. His Twitter handle is @CortesSteve.

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Calls mount for Dem who admitted to abusing ex-wife to drop out of South Carolina primary

Archie Parnell is pictured. | Getty

The Post and Courier reported Monday that Archie Parnell admitted to physically abusing his ex-wife in 1973. | Sean Rayford/Getty Images


A South Carolina Democrat who has admitted to physically abusing his former wife in the 1970s has refused to drop out of next month’s congressional primary despite a call from his state’s Democratic Party to do so and the resignation of his campaign manager.

The Post and Courier of Charleston reported Monday that Archie Parnell, one of four Democrats running for the right to challenge GOP Rep. Ralph Norman in South Carolina’s 5th Congressional District, admitted to physically abusing his ex-wife in 1973 after he was confronted with divorce records that detailed the allegations. Parnell used a tire iron to break the window of an apartment where friends of his then-wife were protecting her from him, records show, after which he struck her several times and then beat her again later in the evening.

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“This campaign has always been about the people of the 5th district, my home, but never about me,” he said in a statement. “Forty-five years ago, while still a college student, I did something that I have regretted every single day since. In response to actions I feel unnecessary to specify, I lashed out and became violent with other people, including my former wife, which led to a divorce and monumental change in my life.”

In his statement, Parnell called his actions “inexcusable, wrong and downright embarrassing,” but added that “since then, my life has been changed by a remarkable woman, two amazing daughters, a forgiving God and a career that has taught me to cherish what I have.”

Yates Baroody, Parnell’s former campaign manager, confirmed Tuesday morning that she resigned Friday over the revelations contained in his divorce records.

Calls for Parnell to leave the race have mounted. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) rescinded his endorsement of Parnell, and South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Trav Robertson said in a statement that Parnell “has no choice but to withdraw from the race for the 5th Congressional District” and that “his actions, though long ago, directly contradict the values of the Democratic Party.”

Parnell is roughly a year removed from a closer-than-expected loss against Norman in last year’s special election, held to fill the 5th District seat vacated by Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney. The other three candidates running in the June 12 Democratic primary, according to The State, are Steven Lough, who is a former professional clown, Mark Ali and Sidney Moore.

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‘To not do anything is a tragedy’: Mom who lost son to gun violence runs for Congress

As the nation watched Friday’s high school shooting unfold in Texas – the sixth since the attack in Parkland, Fla. – Lucy McBath was on the campaign trail in Georgia.

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She knew what the parents were going through.

“I was just as angry and devastated on Friday with Santa Fe as I was for Parkland because Jordan was the same age as all these children that have been gunned down,” she said.

Her son Jordan was 17 when he was shot and killed in 2012 by a stranger at a gas station.

Now, McBath is part of a growing movement: parents who’ve lost a child to gun violence running for office.

PHOTO: In this file photo, Lucia McBath, faith and community outreach leader for Everytown for Gun Safety, speaks about gun violence and the death of her son Jordan Davis, Oct. 24, 2016, in Washington, DC.Leigh Vogel/Getty Images, FILE
In this file photo, Lucia McBath, faith and community outreach leader for Everytown for Gun Safety, speaks about gun violence and the death of her son Jordan Davis, Oct. 24, 2016, in Washington, DC.

“I never expected this to happen but I know that in light of all my experiences, to not to do anything is a tragedy in itself,” McBath said in an interview with ABC News.

McBath, a former flight attendant and spokesperson for Everytown for Gun Safety, is running for Congress in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District.

She was originally running for state House but she switched to run for U.S. House in March, after the Parkland shooting.

PHOTO: Ryan Petty and Lori Alhadeff speak to the media after turning in their paperwork to run for the Broward County School Board, May 15, 2018, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Ryan Petty and Lori Alhadeff speak to the media after turning in their paperwork to run for the Broward County School Board, May 15, 2018, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

That deadly shooting inspired others to run as well, including two parents whose teenage daughters were killed at the Florida high school and are now running for seats on their county’s school board.

“I’m sure you’ll continue to see more parents like myself who are losing their children standing up. It’s just going to happen,” McBath said.

If Georgia’s 6th district sounds familiar, that’s because a special election there last year was widely reported on and viewed as a barometer of public opinion on President Donald Trump. Hillary Clinton nearly turned the district blue in 2016, losing by less than two percentage points to Trump in a district that hasn’t been represented by a Democrat in Congress since 1979.

Democratic hopes were defeated by Republican Rep. Karen Handel, who beat opponent Jon Ossoff and made history by becoming Georgia’s first ever woman to represent the state in Congress. Since that June 2017 special election, however, Democratic enthusiasm has led to pickups in states like Pennsylvania and Alabama.

“We know the eyes and ears of the nation are here, we’re really trying to make sure that democracy works here in our state and make sure that it works for everybody,” McBath said. “At least I am,” the candidate added with a laugh.

PHOTO: Lucy McBath, a Democratic candidate for Georgias 6th District, with her son, Jordan Davis in this undated file photo.Lucy McBath for Congress
Lucy McBath, a Democratic candidate for Georgia’s 6th District, with her son, Jordan Davis in this undated file photo.

McBath will face three other Democratic candidates on Tuesday: former TV news anchor Bobby Kaple, businessman Kevin Abel and management consultant Steve Knight Griffin. Kaple, who had $290,000 in the bank at the end of the pre-primary reporting period, has the endorsement of Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Cedric Richmond of Louisiana, and numerous prominent Democrats in the state.

McBath finished the pre-primary reporting period with about $69,000 in the bank but recently received a donation a large $540,000 donation from Everytown for Gun Violence for television ads.

Georgia is a red state, which makes it a tough for a candidate running on a platform of stricter gun control.

But Georgia is also a state that faces more firearms deaths than the national average. In 2016, 1,571 people died in Georgia from firearms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — bringing the rate of deaths to 15 per every 100,000 residents. The national average in 2016 was 11.8 per 100,000 population.

But McBath is adamant that she is not an anti-gun candidate. According to her campaign, McBath wants background checks for all gun sales, the defeat of conceal carry reciprocity, a higher minimum age of purchase and laws that ban domestic abusers and criminals from buying guns.

PHOTO: Lucy McBath, a Democratic candidate for Georgias 6th District, with her son, Jordan Davis in this undated file photo.Lucy McBath for Congress
Lucy McBath, a Democratic candidate for Georgia’s 6th District, with her son, Jordan Davis in this undated file photo.

“The thing about it is that I’m not against guns. I’m not against the Second Amendment. I’m not against law-abiding gun owners and hunters owning their guns,” she said.

What she is against, she said, is people who “want to use their guns in a way that is criminal.”

“We have to get a grip on keeping the guns out of hands of people who should not have them,” McBath said.

Throughout her campaign, she’s tried to push back on claims that she’s a one-issue candidate. Knowing what it’s like to lose a son, she said, she can understand other issues that hurt families – such as immigration and the fear of losing someone to deportation.

“I know what it’s like to tear families apart from gun violence — we shouldn’t be doing that with immigration,” McBath said.

Other parts of her platform are inspired by her experience raising her son and being a single mother. At one point, she was so disappointed in the education system she decided she had to homeschool him.

“I recognized my neighborhood wasn’t going to be able to give Jordan the education I wanted him to have,” she said.

“So, yes, guns is a huge part of my platform,” McBath said. “But it’s not the only part of my platform because a lot of what I’m talking about I’ve experienced myself. That’s been my reality.”

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